Fee hikes restrict student choices

15 September 2014

A survey of 5000 students from across the tertiary sector shows that tuition fees have increased at the maximum level permitted. Fees are constraining students’ choices more than ever before. Although tuition fees are only permitted to increase 4% per year, our survey has discovered that student fees have increased by 14% in the last three years.

“This survey shows how desperately underfunded our tertiary institutions are. Even when the government increases funding for programmes such as engineering and agriculture, the tertiary providers still feel it’s necessary to increase fees the maximum they are allowed. There isn’t an unsustainable demand for tertiary education and university leaders are already telling us that we are nearing the level where there is likely to be a collapse in demand”, said New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) President Daniel Haines.

Median tuition fees for fulltime students are now $6139, up from $5400 in 2011. The average fees for fulltime students are now $7054, up from $6246. The average tuition fees for part-time students have increased by 31%. This data suggests that the average part-time student is now half-time.

“In 2011 we already had the eighth highest fees for public institutions in the world, that is likely to have worsened,” said Haines.

“The impact of increasing fees is not only in preventing people from studying at all, it is also impacting on the study choices that students are making. In 2011 one in four students identified fees as having an influence on their choice of course, that is now up to 44% or nearly one in two.”

“Students should study where and what they want, to follow their aspirations and to maximise their talents. That so many are choosing not on what is best for them or for their qualification but what will cost them the least is damaging to our education system, our future productivity and our future society.”

"Of those who cited fees as having an influence on course choice, 44% had to think carefully about whether or not a course was worth it, 53% had to think carefully about whether or not they could continue to afford to be a students, and 22% said it affected which institution they could afford to attend. 20% did fewer or different papers than the ones they wanted to."

"One in five students not continuing with their studies identified cost as the reason that they would no longer studying, the leading cause after finishing their qualification or finding employment," says Haines. 

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) surveyed students from across New Zealand during the month of August asking them about their income, expenditure, assets and debts. The study, the largest of its kind and unique in that it has been ongoing for nearly 30 years, involved just under 5,000 student respondents from 11 campuses, and included those at both universities and polytechnics.

The voice of New Zealand's 400,000 students.

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations exists to advance the political, social and economic interests of tertiary students whatever they study and wherever they live. NZUSA is a membership body of local students' associatons. We believe in opportunity for all.

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